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Sprint Prepaid phone unlocking policy and FAQs

Last Updated: Feb 09, 2015

What does it mean for my device to be 'locked'?

The term "locked" typically refers to a device that can only be used on the Sprint network and cannot be activated on a competing carrier's network. An "unlocked" device is no longer locked to Sprint Prepaid services and the user may attempt to activate it on another carrier's network. There are generally two scenarios for locking/unlocking:

  1. MSL Unlocking: A device is 'locked' if it is manufactured with a type of disabling software and a locking code (referred to as 'Master Subsidy Lock' or 'MSL'). Generally speaking, for devices launched before February 2015, an MSL was utilized that locks the device to certain operational parameters for use on with Sprint Prepaid services and prevents the device from attempting to be activated on other carriers' networks. Not all Sprint Prepaid devices have an MSL code or a locking function that can be unlocked by Sprint Prepaid. And, on certain devices, not all functionality may be unlocked (e.g., for some smartphone devices, only the CDMA/voice functionality of the device may be able to be unlocked but not the GSM/UMTS/LTE portion of the device). Therefore, "unlocking" simply means using the MSL Code and bypassing the lock. Importantly, however, an unlocked device will not necessarily work or be interoperable with another carrier's network. Additionally, Sprint Prepaid devices which the owner has attempted to reprogram or activate on another carrier's network or otherwise altered from its initial programming or settings may not be able to be reactivated on the Sprint network.
  2. SIM Unlocking: A device may also be referred to as 'locked' if that device was manufactured with programming restrictions that prevent another carrier's SIM card from being inserted into the SIM slot for use on a different network. For domestic SIM unlock or DSU-capable devices launched after February 2015, the SIM locking has restrictions, and Sprint Prepaid's ability to unlock these devices or work with the manufacturer of the device to unlock the SIM slot vary. Even if unlocked, Sprint Prepaid DSU-capable devices may not work on another carrier's network. Whether an unlocked Sprint Prepaid device can be used on another carrier's network is subject to that carrier's policies and network compatibilities. Additionally, Sprint Prepaid devices which the owner has attempted to reprogram or activate on another carrier's network or otherwise altered from its initial programming or settings may not be able to be reactivated on the Sprint network.

How can I unlock my device?

Eligible customers can request a DSU-capable device be unlocked and/or request the associated MSL Code by contacting Sprint Prepaid Customer Care at 855-639-4644.

Will Sprint Prepaid notify me when my device is eligible to be unlocked/has been unlocked?

No. Sprint Prepaid elects to post its unlocking policies and procedures online. However, if you believe you meet the above requirements and would like to request that your DSU-capable device be unlocked and/or request the associated MSL Code, contact Sprint Prepaid Customer Care at 855-639-4644.

If my DSU-capable device is unlocked, does that mean I will be able to use it with a different carrier?

Unlocking a DSU-capable device simply means removing the programming restrictions that prevent another carrier's SIM card from being inserted into the SIM slot. Even if unlocked, Sprint Prepaid devices may not work on another carrier's network. Whether an unlocked Sprint device can be used on another carrier's network is subject to that carrier's policies and network compatibilities. Additionally, Sprint Prepaid devices which the owner has attempted to reprogram or activate on another carrier's network or otherwise altered from its initial programming or settings may not be able to be reactivated with Sprint Prepaid services.

I have the MSL code for my device. Does that mean that my device is unlocked?

The MSL code may be used to override operational parameters restricting the device to operating with Sprint Prepaid services; however, the MSL code alone will not enable certain devices to operate on a different carrier's network. Whether another carrier is able to or will reprogram a device is subject to that carrier's policies and practices. Sprint Prepaid devices which the owner has attempted to reprogram or activate on another carrier's network or otherwise altered from its initial programming or settings may not be able to be reactivated with Sprint Prepaid services.

I've been told by another carrier that Sprint Prepaid needs to unlock my SIM slot in order to use my phone on the other carrier's network.

For DSU-capable devices (generally devices and device models launched February 2015 or later), Sprint Prepaid will unlock the SIM slot for devices that are eligible. If you believe that your device is eligible to be unlocked and want to request a domestic SIM unlock, contact Sprint Prepaid Customer Care at 855-639-4644.

It is important to note that not all devices are capable of being unlocked, often because of the manufacturers' device designs. Specifically, devices and device models manufactured prior to February 2015 cannot be unlocked to accept a different domestic carrier's SIM for use on another domestic carrier's network. Sprint Prepaid has no technological process available to do this.

I have been told that my device is not DSU-capable. What can I do?

Many devices that have been manufactured for Sprint Prepaid simply are not DSU-capable. This is because, prior to the development of the voluntary commitment contained in CTIA's Consumer Code for Wireless Service ("Unlocking Commitment") carriers were not required to, and many carriers did not, develop their devices to be DSU-capable. We strongly encourages owners of such devices to consider Sprint Prepaid's Buyback Program, which may enable them to trade in their old devices to receive an account credit. For more information, visit sprintbuyback.com

I am a former Sprint Prepaid customer or was never a Sprint Prepaid customer but have purchased a Sprint Prepaid device from a third party other than Sprint Prepaid. Can I have the device unlocked or receive the MSL code?

For individual owners who can provide the Sprint Prepaid telephone number or device ID, Sprint Prepaid may be able to unlock the device and/or provide the applicable MSL Code, provided the device is eligible under the applicable policy above. If a device is not eligible for any reason under the respective applicable policy, a non-Sprint Prepaid customer requestor may be required to work with the original purchaser and/or the person from whom the requestor purchased the device to ensure any financial or device eligibility criteria are met. Sprint Prepaid cannot share any information about any account, including with a non-Sprint Prepaid customer who has legally purchased a Sprint Prepaid device, without proper authentication from the account holder or an authorized contact. Customers are strongly encouraged to contact Sprint Prepaid about a device's unlock eligibility before purchasing through a non-Sprint Prepaid channel.

Will Sprint Prepaid unlock another carrier's phone?

No, Sprint Prepaid will not unlock devices from other wireless carriers. Please contact the wireless carrier from whom you obtained the device.

Will Sprint Prepaid allow unlocked devices from other wireless carriers on its network?

Generally, Sprint Prepaid will only activate devices that have been certified to work with Sprint Prepaid services and will not activate unlocked devices from other carriers/service providers, including devices manufactured for Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile, and Assurance Wireless. Devices designed for other wireless carriers may not interoperate with Sprint Prepaid's services and may cause service degradation and/or other poor customer experiences.

This policy is subject to change without notice at Sprint's discretion. Updated 2/11/2015.

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David and every other member of the Social Care Team-   Please, stop trying to foist us off on Sprint operated pre
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Taken from FCC site (address on the bottom):   Q: When Is My Device Eligible for Unlocking? Once the new standards
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